With version 5.0 of IBM FileNet P8, IBM have now given their backing to a new standard, designed to allow interoperability between different Content repositories. Content Management Interoperability Services (or CMIS) is an interface specification that means a Business application is able to support multiple Content Management systems – if you’re familiar with ODBC or JDBC you get the idea. It has the benefit of being platform independent, and programming language neutral.
The CMIS specification has actually been developed by the OASIS consortium, and defines access through either SOAP or REST. CMIS does not expose every feature of every Content provider, but it does define all the common functions, and there is a growing list of ECM vendors: IBM, Microsoft, EMC, Open Text, Alfresco, SAP, Oracle, etc.
Getting FileNet Content Manager to support CMIS is pretty straight forward, and involves installing IBM CMIS software in WebSphere – so far it only supports AIX (part CZP1AML), Windows (part CZP1BML), and Linux (part CZP1CML) platforms. There have been suggestions from other early adopters that this software can also be applied against version 4.5.1 of P8. CMIS client applications effectively connect to the Content repository by accessing this web service.
OK, so how do we get our custom applications to connect to our Content via CMIS? You could call the web service directly if you’re a hard-core developer, and there are some great tutorials that will take you through step-by-step how to interrogate CMIS at a low-level. But always better to let someone else do the donkey work, and use a pre-fabricated library, and I heartily recommend you take a look at OpenCMIS (a.k.a. Apache Chemistry). As you may have deduced, this is an open-source initiative, and it supports Java, .net, and PHP. I’ve actually written a sample Java application myself that uses OpenCMIS, and it’s pretty straight forward.
CMIS also opens up the possibility of accessing FileNet content without relying on P8 applications such as Workplace. Take a look at OpenWorkDesk, which connects to any CMIS-compliant repository.